Discussion on Privacy of Metaverse from a Technological View
In the last article, we gave a detailed introduction to Metaverse and analyzed the potential privacy issues from the following three perspectives: data security, intellectual property, and the globality and interoperability of Metaverse. As we put forward, although it will experience a long history of development before Metaverse has a recognized mature form, since it is a more free and open virtual world constructed based on real-world models and technologies, privacy protection will inevitably become one of the most important and key research topics in metaverse. In this article, we will make the first and rigorous attempt to give an empirical definition on metaverse technological compositions and discuss the privacy concerns in metaverse from a technological view.
Of course, the lack of a recognized definition of advanced concepts is a common phenomenon in the field of frontier science and technology. Although the metaverse has attracted much attention and expectations from all parties, there is currently no universally accepted definition . Returning to the essence of the concept, it can be considered that the metaverse is based on the traditional cyberspace, with the maturity of a variety of digital technologies, building and forming a virtual world that is both mirrored and independent of the real world. At the same time, Metaverse is not a simple virtual space, but includes the network, hardware terminals and users into a sustainable, wide-covered virtual reality system. The system contains both digital copies of the real world and the creation of the virtual world. At present, everything about the metaverse is still under debate. Analysis from different perspectives will lead to extremely different conclusions, but the basic characteristics of the metaverse have been generally recognized by the industry.
To sum up, the basic features of metaverse include:
- Immersive experience, low latency and immersiveness, allowing users to have an immersive sensory experience;
- Virtualized avatars, real-world users will have one or more ID identities in the digital world;
- Open creation , Users enter the digital world through the terminal and can use massive resources to carry out creative activities;
- Strong social attributes, the real social relationship chain will be transferred and reorganized in the digital world;
- Stabilize the system, with a safe, stable, and orderly economic operation system.
The basis of metaverse technology can be summed up by BIGANT (Big Ant). B refers to blockchain technology (Blockchain), I refers to interactive technology (Interactivity), G refers to video game technology (Game), A refers to artificial intelligence technology (AI), N refers to network and computing technology (Network), T refers to Internet of Things technology (Internet of Things) . “Big Ant” can be said to set the digital technology into huge integration. The detailed demonstration of the function and significance of main technologies can be summarized as follows.
Enhance immersion with interactive technologies such as AR and VR
Looking back on the development of the game, the improvement of immersion has always been the main direction of its technological breakthrough. From Angry Birds to CSGO, game modeling from 2D to 3D gives the game’s objects a three-dimensional feel. Players are free to switch perspectives in the game to increase immersion. However, 3D games can still only be displayed through vertical screen game screens. Player interaction is also subject to keyboard, mouse, handle and other hardware tools, and the metaverse “synchronization and truth” requirements are far from. In the future, with the development of human-computer interaction technology represented by VR and AR, the immersion of virtual open world games hosted by more authentic and high-frequency human-computer interaction  is also expected to be greatly improved, thus narrowing the gap with the mature form of the metaverse.
Support large-scale users online at the same time, improve the accessibility of the game through 5G, cloud computing technology
The metaverse is a large-scale participatory medium, the number of interactive users will reach hundreds of millions. At present, large-scale online games are using client software, to the game operator server and user computer for the processing terminal to run. In this mode, the performance requirements of the computer terminal form the threshold of use, which limits the user’s reach. At the same time, the terminal server carrying capacity is limited, which makes it difficult to support large-scale users online at the same time. The advancement and popularization of underlying technologies such as 5G and cloud computing is the key to breaking through the limits of gaming accessibility in the future .
Drive rendering mode upgrades through algorithmic and calculative power enhancements to improve the reachability of the game
At present, 3D games use the traditional terminal rendering mode. Limited by the personal computer graphics processor (GPU) rendering ability, the game’s screen pixel fineness and the effect of the real is still a big gap . In order to improve the existing rendering mode and improve the reachability of the game, it is necessary to make continuous progress in the infrastructure industry such as algorithms, calculations, and semiconductors.
Reduce the threshold of content creation and increase the malleability of games with blockchain and AI technology
All of the above techniques are essential elements for building the basic implementation of the metaverse. The current bottlenecks in these technologies, then, will also shift to the metaverse and may even be further magnified. Privacy protection is one of the most compelling points of discussion in all of these technologies.
Privacy plays an important role in protecting valuable conditions of moral personhood or normative agency. Most people would not be comfortable exploring certain ideas, expressing some opinions, or behaving in specific ways without a certain degree of privacy. Persons, if they are to develop themselves and explore their ideas, require a degree of privacy in which to do this. Life in a world of diminished privacy will affect the development of individuals’ moral characters. Individuals will no longer have as much of a private space in which to make mistakes, experiment, explore different aspects of themselves. It is a founding principle of liberal states that there should exist a personal realm exempt from government interference. Without privacy, the ability of governments (and companies) to influence individual and group behaviour will be extensive.
Unfortunately, the possibility of maintaining privacy is seriously reduced with the advent of digital technology, and with the further convergence of SNs (social networks) and VR, the threats to privacy will in some cases be exacerbated. The fact that people are carrying out more and more daily tasks and activities online mean that they are leaving an increasingly larger and larger digital footprint. This footprint can be used to find out a lot about individuals and thus threaten their privacy. Furthermore, others might capture a person’s image or record them, thereby making it more difficult for an individual to control how information about them is released. Indeed, if the “Internet of Things” (which would see the creation of a world of ambient technology) emerges as predicted, genuine privacy is likely to become even less feasible . Moreover, VRSNs (VR+SN) are likely to provide users with the possibility of being realistically represented in real-time. In some cases, VRSNs will insist on users being represented in this manner. This will require that users’ likenesses, expressions and emotional reactions are captured as they interact with the virtual world and the other people within it.
In our analysis, we distinguish three different kinds of privacy in metaverse . Informational privacy relates to protection against third party access to all kinds of information about an individual including an individual’s thoughts, utterances, correspondence, and financial, medical and educational records. Physical privacy relates to some sort of shelter against third party sensory access to an individual’s body and actions. Thus it concerns modesty, separateness, bodily integrity and the like. Associational privacy concerns an individual’s control over excluding and including third parties in certain specific experiences. It thus guarantees the intimacy of certain social situations that an individual wishes to be intimate. Based on this distinction, we will further identify the privacy threats in metaverse in the next article.
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